The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers

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In The Epic of Gilgamesh, explain the role(s) of kingship in the Sumerian society.

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At the beginning of The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is portrayed as a harsh and predatory king, the opposite of what a king ought to be. Men and gods make exactly the same complaint:

No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all, even the children; yet the king should be a shepherd to his people. His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior's daughter nor the wife of the noble.

The gods create Enkidu to curb the arrogance of Gilgamesh but after they have fought and Guilgamesh has shown himself to be stronger, Enkidu acknowledges that this is only fitting since Gilgamesh is the king, raised up above all men and therefore surpassing all men in strength. In this sense, therefore, Gilgamesh is what society demands of a king, a great hero with the strength to protect his people. Despite their initial altercation, Enkidu comes not to destroy the bad king, but to redirect his energies away from preying on his own people.

The Epic of Gilgamesh makes it clear that the...

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